HomeKNOW YOUR 1950S TRAINS
 



While researching an article about wagons I rediscovered one of the first pieces of railway ephemera that I ever collected - a charming fold-out child-friendly frieze entitled "Know Your Trains" published by the British Transport Commission, Printed in Great Britain by Waterlow & Sons Limited and illustrated by an artist who simply identified as  "CARR".
 


INTRODUCTION
 


While researching an article about wagons I rediscovered one of the first pieces of railway ephemera that I ever collected - a charming fold-out child-friendly frieze entitled "Know Your Trains" published by the British Transport Commission, Printed in Great Britain by Waterlow & Sons Limited and illustrated by an artist simply identified as  "CARR".  

Unfortunately I have not been able to discover any more about this illustrator but I - and I hope you too - still appreciate the rich images that have been created from a simple palette of colours applied skilfully with varying shades and shadows.  For example, look how just two shades of green not only convey the notion of curved, tensioned sheet metal on the side of locomotive 10202 (above ) but also define the radiator grilles
.  Similarly, the side and door windows and windscreens are picked out with the same grey that is used on the underframe details.

What also draws the eye to this publication is the foreground and background to the elevation of the trains on each side.  Below rail level is a continuous green stripe with white numerals to identify each vehicle mentioned in the blocks of text below.  This not only gives the impression of the trains running along a lush, manicured embankment ( this was the era of lengthmen who competed for the best kept stretch of track after all)  but adds depth to the five inches that the folder actually has.

Behind the trains however are backdrops not only worthy of the railway travel posters - or indeed a children's picture book - of the era but which add interest and drama to the scene as well as contrasting to the colours of the vehicles. 10202 thus hauls its maroon carriages through an Italianate landscape of purple headed mountains and buff hills dotted with white walled red-roofed villages - quite different from its usual haunts between Waterloo, Salisbury and Exeter!

It would have been easy for the artist to just to use light blue for the sky but instead the trains roll past rich cloudscapes of dark blue, grey, light green and purple with the odd horizontal white streak - perhaps suggestive of the then-new military and civilian jet aircraft.

Similar -but not identical - skies preside over the freight train, which also rolls past chimneyed factories, cooling towers, town skylines, a port full of traditional merchant steamers and what could be a nuclear power station complete with transformers and pylons - all set among the crests and hollows of gently rolling hills.

The  overall impression is one of a strong, simple yet varied railway in the service of the land that it nourishes and which also created it.  However, as the original publication intended, it is the detail within the total scene that should be the focus of our attention.

As my particular copy of "Know Your Trains" is in far from mint condition I have reproduced the better preserved sections here with minor digital enhancement where appropriate.  The only crime against art that I have inadvertently committed is that the Travelling  Post Office immediately behind 10202 should have a square grey window above the centreline of the lead bogie and between the black-and-straw lining out.
 This disappeared when I was trying to mitigate a particularly coarse fold and I apologise to all purists in advance.

 


"Pictured in this folder are a PASSENGER TRAIN and a FREIGHT TRAIN of British Railways. You  are unlikely to see trains exactly like these because as many diferent vehicles have been included in them as possible.  British Railways are rapidly going over from steam to diesel and electric locomotives.  So the passenger train is hauled by a diesel locomotive and the freight train by an electric locomotive."

 


PROLOGUE
 


The text of "Know Your Trains" begins:

 


"Pictured in this folder are a PASSENGER TRAIN and a FREIGHT TRAIN of British Railways. You  are unlikely to see trains exactly like these because as many diferent vehicles have been included in them as possible.  British Railways are rapidly going over from steam to diesel and electric locomotives.  So the passenger train is hauled by a diesel locomotive and the freight train by an electric locomotive."
 


This paragraph not only sets out the inherently surreal context of the publication but would also seem to date it from the mid 1950s as the diesel locomotive - 10202 - was one of only a handful of main line examples in use on British Railways before the Modernisation Plan of 1955.  
 


DIESEL ELECTRIC 1Co-Co1 10202
 


Designed by  Chief Mechanical Engineer O.V.S. Bulleid for the western parts of the Southern Railway that could not be economically electrified, 10202 was the second of two diesel electrics to combine an English Electric 16SVT prime mover with a 1Co-Co1 wheel arrangement dictated by the Southern Railway's loading gauge and the need to reduce axle load.  However, compared to diesel electric Co-Cos 10000 and 10001 of London Midland  Region, 10201 - outshopped from Ashford Works in August 1951- could offer 1 750 bhp at 850 rpm.  For reasons discussed elsewhere on this website, 10202 and its older sister 10201 both had full height gangway connections on their flat fronts although 10203 - built in 1954 the first 2 000 bhp British diesel electric - was also the first to dispense with these.  By that time 10202 had worked such named expresses as "The Night Ferry" and the "Golden Arrow" before transfer to Willesden depot on the LMR to work alongside 10000 and 10001 on "The Royal Scot" and even outer suburban workings.  By 1963 however 10202 had been withdrawn from service as non-standard and was subsequently scrapped - although not before the English Electric Classes 37 and 40 had been produced based on lessons learned from the Bulleid diesel electric trio.                
 


TRAVELLING POST OFFICE SORTING VAN
 


"Most of the letters and parcels that the postman delivers have travelled by train.  Some of them are carried in Travelling Post Offices [pictured above]. Post Office workers sort the letters as the trains go along, and full mail bags can be picked up or dropped off at lineside posts.  Some trains are made up entirely of vans which carry letters and parcels."                                  
 


Mail was first carried by train on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in 1930 and first sorted on the move in 1838 on the Grand Junction Railway - linking the Liverpool and Manchester Railway with Birmingham.  The first postal special train was inaugurated between Paddington and Bristol by the Great Western Railway on 1 February 1855 and the same company introduced mail pick-up and set-down apparatus at Slough and Maidenhead in 1866.   The last pouches of mail to be picked up by a TPO retractable net - as seen in the picture - were "snatched" from Penrith, Cumberland, on 1 October 1971 and in 2009 mail on the rails is handled by First GBRf.   

The Sorting Van depicted in Know Your Trains is also distinguished by the round lights just above the solebar just to the left of the sliding doors and the fact that no corridor connection is made to the passenger carriage behind it.  In the context of the fantasy train this is entirely correct as all railway Post Office vehicles have offset corridor connections to allow them only to be gangwayed with each other.  However, this means that individual vehicles may have to be turned when re-marshalling trains.  Not visible on this particular carriage but a long standing feature of Travelling Post Offices is a letter box allowing First Class letters to be posted directly from station platforms                                                          
 


COMPOSITE CARRIAGE
 


These mixed First and Second Class carriages are known to railwaymen as "Composites" and the reference to First and Second Classes themselves further date "Know Your Trains" to a period after 1956.  In this year British Railways renamed Third as Second Class, nomenclature which lasted until 1987 when Second Class became Standard Class.
 


"When you go by train you can travel 1st or 2nd Class.  The 1st Class compartments have a "1" on the doors. In [the] coach [illustrated] are seats for both classes.                                                               
 


These mixed First and Second Class carriages are known to railwaymen as "Composites" and the reference to First and Second Classes themselves further date "Know Your Trains" to a period after 1956.  In this year British Railways renamed Third as Second Class, nomenclature which lasted until 1987 when Second Class became Standard Class.  

At the very start of railways in Britain however there were only First Class Carriages ( based on horse drawn stagecoaches ) and Second Class, in which passengers sat in open wagons under a canvas roof.    Uncovered open wagons were introduced for Third Class passengers in 1838
 
A bad accident in 1840 at the Great Western Railway's Sonning Cutting saw several passengers killed as they were thrown from the open carriages and William Ewart Gladstone's Railway Act of 1844 ruled that all railways had to offer at least one train a day on each passenger line with covered  - and seated - accommodation for Third Class passengers for a maximum fare of one penny a mile. It was only in the 1970s that the early morning low-fare 'workmen's trains' were discontinued by British Rail.


In the early 1870's the Midland Railway upgraded all the Third Class accommodation to what had been Second Class standards and a couple of years later they abolished the Second Class altogether. The rest of the railway companies gradually followed suit by about 1905.

Also noticeable by their absence
in the fantasy train are both a yellow stripe at cantrail height to indicate First Class accommodation and also a red stripe similarly just below roof level to indicate a catering vehicle. This colour system - making different parts of a train easily visible on crowded platforms - was not widely adopted outside British Railway's Southern Region until 1961 although the use of yellow stripes - and other colours for other classes - was pioneered by the Great Eastern Railway in the 1920s: prompting the commuter services out of Liverpool Street to be known as Jazz Trains.
  
 


BUFFET AND SLEEPING CARS
 


"On many trains you can get things to eat and drink. The latest idea is that passengers should be able to have either a light snack or a full meal.  The buffet car [ above ] supplies both.  In the middle is the kitchen where food is prepared. Most passenger coaches look alike from the outside, but there are a lot of different arrangements inside.  [ not illustrated ] is a sleeping car.  You can tell it because it has smaller windows than an ordinary carriage.  It has small, comfortable bedrooms, each with a proper bed, a washbasin and places to put your clothes when you undress.  The attendant has a little pantry where he makes cups of tea for the passengers in the morning."
 


"On many trains you can get things to eat and drink. The latest idea is that passengers should be able to have either a light snack or a full meal.  The buffet car [ above ] supplies both.  In the middle is the kitchen where food is prepared. Most passenger coaches look alike from the outside, but there are a lot of different arrangements inside.  [ not illustrated ] is a sleeping car.  You can tell it because it has smaller windows than an ordinary carriage.  It has small, comfortable bedrooms, each with a proper bed, a washbasin and places to put your clothes when you undress.  The attendant has a little pantry where he makes cups of tea for the passengers in the morning."
 


Although the sleeping car illustrated in Know Your Trains looks very much like the other British Railways Mark 1 carriages coupled on either side, it is riding on six wheeled bogies - a design feature started by the London & North Western Railway in 1873 and perpetuated by the Nationalised industry until the 1970s.

 


BRAKE SECOND
 


Every train has to have a guard on it. He usually travels in a special part of one of the coaches like [ the one above ] There is a brake which he can use in an emergency and, of course, he has the flags which he uses in daylight and lamps for use at night.  There is room, too, for luggage, parcels and mail bags.  The rest of the coach is divided into compartments for passengers.
 


"Every train has to have a guard on it. He usually travels in a special part of one of the coaches like [ the one above ] There is a brake which he can use in an emergency and, of course, he has the flags which he uses in daylight and lamps for use at night.  There is room, too, for luggage, parcels and mail bags.  The rest of the coach is divided into compartments for passengers."                                                       
 


Every train still needs a guard, but sadly the multiple unit trains on which most passengers now travel now have far less room for storing trunks, bicycles and other large objects.

 


HORSEBOX AND MOTOR CAR WAGON
 


"A horse box.  It has a padded room for the horses. There is a special compartment for the man who looks after the horses during the journey.  You might not think that motor cars travel in trains, but they do, in vans like the one at the end of the train.  New cars go from the factories to the ports for shipment overseas.  And sometimes people going on long journeys  like to take their cars with them on the train."
 


"A horse box.  It has a padded room for the horses. There is a special compartment for the man who looks after the horses during the journey.  You might not think that motor cars travel in trains, but they do, in vans like the one at the end of the train.  New cars go from the factories to the ports for shipment overseas.  And sometimes people going on long journeys  like to take their cars with them on the train."                                                    
 


Wagons for moving horses were used since the earliest days of the railways but due to a change of policy regarding the carriage of animals, and the lack of rail links to many stables and race courses, British Railways horse boxes were withdrawn in the early 1970s and few have survived due to the acidic nature of horse manure. 

However, in April 1937 Gloucester RCW built Great Western railcar 18 arrived at Reading shed for passenger work on the Lambourn branch of the former Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway. The most powerful such vehicle to leave Gloucester’s Bristol Road in the 1930s, railcar 18 was also fitted with buffers and designed to haul and shunt horseboxes .  In this way the modification of an existing design paved the way for the multiple unit trains that are such a part of 21st Century British railways.

Even further back, the first ever horse box -horse drawn on Britain's roads - was built in 1788 to carry Eclipse, the 25 year old ancestor of 95% of today's Thoroughbred racehorses including Arkle, Desert Orchid and many of the names perpetuated by the English Electric Deltics based at Finsbury Park Depot.  As well as siring 930 colts and fillies during 17 years at stud, the sheer speed of Eclipse changed the nature of British horse racing from tests of stamina to shorter, faster challenges: like the Epson Derby, first run in 1780 by the Earl of Derby and Sir Charles Bunbury to find Britain's best three year old thoroughbred.

Wagons for carrying motor cars by rail, on the other hand, were soon to outgrow simple two-axle covered vans and evolve into bogied vehicles dedicated to Motorail traffic and - when British owned companies still mass produced cars - into articulated double decked "Cartic 4" wagons used to move new automobiles from the factories.


D.C. ELECTRIC Bo-Bo 26020, MEAT VAN AND COVERED VAN
 


" You have often seen locomotives pulling long lines of trucks.  Most of them are steam locomotives. This one is electric.  Millions of tons of goods and things like coal and iron ore are carried by British Railways.  There are many kinds of wagons and vans to carry the different loads.  Some of them are shown in this freight train.  Next to the locomotive is a meat van.  Special airy vans are built for fresh meat and insulated vans for meat coming from overseas. [The next van ] is a covered van for goods which must be kept dry."
 


" You have often seen locomotives pulling long lines of trucks.  Most of them are steam locomotives. This one is electric.  Millions of tons of goods and things like coal and iron ore are carried by British Railways.  There are many kinds of wagons and vans to carry the different loads.  Some of them are shown in this freight train.  Next to the locomotive is a meat van.  Special airy vans are built for fresh meat and insulated vans for meat coming from overseas. [The next van ] is a covered van for goods which must be kept dry."                                            
 

 

  


As drawn, the only difference between the meat van and the covered van next to it are the former's ventilators on the van ends and the two columns of ventilators on either side of the two sliding doors.  In reality however, a whole range of BR built and pre-Nationalisation covered vans would have been in daily use in the 1950s - some planked, some plywood and some with corrugated ends - and used to carry anything from fruit to bagged cement: traffic that nowadays mainly goes by road.

For moving animal carcasses which did not require insulation, British Railways built 200 standard 10 ton Ventilated Meat vans in 1953 and 1954 to Diagram 1/250 - some of them at Wolverton to Lot 2320 - which were later the subject of an Airfix kit (seen below and heavily weathered) still available from Dapol.  In later years when these wagons were put to more general use the end and side vents were sometimes removed.

 

 

  
 

For moving animal carcasses which did not require insulation, British Railways built 200 standard Ventilated Meat vans - some of them at Wolverton - which were later the subject of an Airfix kit (seen below and heavily weathered) still available from Dapol.

 
 

 

  
Similarly, 26026 is literally a museum piece - preserved in the National Collection at York.  As described in the article about Churchdown School Railtours 1978-79 on this website, this electric locomotive was a pre- World War II design although its intended Manchester-Sheffield-Wath route would not be opened to electric traffic until the completion of the new Woodhead  tunnel in 1951.  As such, it made sense for the British Transport Commission to feature such a modern traction unit in "Know Your Trains".  However, in 1981 the 1 500 volt direct current  stopped flowing in the overhead wires across the Pennines .The route had not only been identified as surplus to requirements in the wake of a national steel strike but non-standard when 25 000 volts a.c. had been chosen as the means of electrifying future large scale railway projects, as recounted in Electrification Pioneers on this website.

Notice too the Carr has depicted 26020 with its pantographs raised but in isolation from any overhead wires or unsightly steel supporting gantries!                                                                       


MILK TANK WAGON, CONTAINER FLAT WAGON AND PALLET VAN
 


"The milk that the milkman leaves on your doorstep travels in big tanks like [ the six wheeled vehicle above ] It is glass lined and holds 3 000 gallons. [ Next ] is a container on a flat wagon.  It can be lifted off on to a lorry. [ Next ] is a pallet van.  Many packages of the same size can be packed on to a platform, or pallet.  This van has wide doors for loading and unloading them easily."
 


"The milk that the milkman leaves on your doorstep travels in big tanks like [ the six wheeled vehicle above ] It is glass lined and holds 3 000 gallons. [ Next ] is a container on a flat wagon.  It can be lifted off on to a lorry. [ Next ] is a pallet van.  Many packages of the same size can be packed on to a platform, or pallet.  This van has wide doors for loading and unloading them easily.                                      


Just as the milkman has been made an endangered species by the rise of supermarkets, so six wheeled glass lined milk tank wagons have been supplanted by lorries in the 21st Century.

However, in 1864
, George Barham, the son of a London dairyman, formed the Express Country Milk Supply Company to bring fresh milk into London by rail, thereby making London's own cows - generally kept in cramped and unhygienic conditions - redundant.  As it turned out these cattle had to be destroyed in 1865 as a result of cattle plague, just as Foot and Mouth Disease was to strike Britain's herds again in 1967 and 2001.

George Barham promptly extended his links with dairy farmers up to 150 miles away but carrying milk over such distances required new handling techniques.  George Barham thus invented the milk churn was his creation and in 1880 Express - with its express locomotive trademark -  was also the first British dairy to use milk bottles. By 1885 the "Express Dairy Company Limited" was bringing 30,000 gallons of milk into the capital every night and George Barham was Knighted in 1904. After his death in 1913, Sir George's business interests and property were divided between his two sons with George Titus Barham continued as Managing Director of the Express Dairy Company Limited.

During the First World War, financial considerations led a number of dairy companies to discuss ways of working together. The delivery network of "The Dairy Supply Company Limited" run by Sir George's other son, Colonel Arthur Saxby Barham, overlapped with three others but this competition was unacceptable in times of national emergency and these began working together. Metropolitan and Great Western Dairies and Wiltshire United Dairies finally merged with The Dairy Supply Company to create "United Dairies Ltd." in 1917.

By the 1930's milk was starting to be transported in bulk, rather than in large churns and in 1931 six 4-wheeled tankers were built by the Southern Railway for United Dairies, but it was quickly discovered that the vehicles rode rough and had to be restricted. Instead, between 1932 and 1944 a series of 6-wheeled tankers were constructed for United Dairies and Express Dairy.  These were insulated externally with cork underneath the metal sheathing and the "glass" lining to the steel tank was in fact vitreous enamel.

Nationally over the years, a total of 632 6-wheeled milk tanks were built, including 89 4-wheeled tanks which were subsequently fitted with 6-wheeled underframes. Additionally, 63 6-wheeled Milk Tank Trucks (designed to carry road tankers and known as "Rotanks") were built, with another three built on 4-wheeled underframes.

United Dairies operated, over the years, 325 6-wheeled milk tanks, including 74 4-wheeled tanks which were subsequently fitted with new 6-wheeled underframes. In addition, it operated seven 6-wheeled Milk Tank Trucks, which carried road tankers.

The best remembered United Dairies rail-supplied bottling plant is probably that at Vauxhall (London). Milk tankers in the up loop platform discharged into a stainless steel pipe leading to the bottling plant in the arches below.

United Dairies merged with Cow & Gate in 1959 to form "Unigate" and by the 1980s road transport had made the six wheeled milk tank wagon obsolete.  However one example is preserved by the Bluebell Railway in Sussex. 

4430 was built at the Southern Railway's Lancing Works in 1933 to diagram No.3157 for United Dairies (Wholesale) Ltd., which supplied milk to various dairy companies. The six-wheeled underframe of 23' 11" overall length, with vacuum braking and a through steam-heat pipe had a tare weight of 13 tons 8 cwt and allowed the milk to be conveyed at passenger train speeds while still arriving at its destination in good condition. Consequently these vehicles were Passenger Rated, in the same way as parcels vans. Although this was an SR-owned vehicle, the tank itself was the property of the dairy company. 4430 had a 3000 gallon capacity and a maximum payload of 14 Tons.

If the six wheeled milk tanker was a link to the past though, both the next two vehicles were looking toward the future.  

The use of containers on flat wagons to convey loads from door to door using road vehicles beyond the reach of railways was an old idea brought to greater prominence when lorry haulage gained strength after the First World War.  By the 1930s all the "Big 4" British railways had flat wagons and containers for  both industrial traffic and house removals although it was the LMS that set the pace with a "Conflat" wagon featuring the latest suspension, 8 shoe vacuum brakegear , a 10' wheelbase for fast running - and no floor!  A single hinged platform was provided on each side and the container was positioned lengthways by raised brackets.  For additional security, the containers were held down by chains attaching to solebar level pockets.This design was perpetuated by British Railways as the Conflat A.

The containers themselves were either the short length A type - which had to be centrally mounted by crane to maintain balance - or the longer B type illustrated in Know Your Trains.  More specifically, CARR seems to have taken the plywood construction and external strapping of the BK type furniture container and combined it with the side door design of the alternative BD.  

However, both four wheeled Conflats and their A and B type containers were to be supplanted in the 1960s by the 20' long 8' section Freightliner containers which have grown even larger and more ubiquitous in the last 50 years.

Similarly, pallet vans were a response to forklift trucks being introduced as an improvement on manual handling of goods and the van illustrated in the fantasy train is a Great Western Railway design.  The strongly braced loading doors are offset to ease pallet loading and these vehicles would have been used on regular workings between factories and depots.  Just to the right of the doors were two downward sloping angle irons - one on top of the other - and to the right of them was an upward sloping diagonal member crossing a vertical : much like the right hand end of the covered van in the same image above.

 Interestingly, BR built its own batch of 12 ton vacuum braked pallet vans from 1960, characterised by diagonal ironwork crossing two vertical members to the right of the doors.  However, these withdrawn after a serious derailment led to doubts about their riding characteristics.  More recently though, bogie vans with either curtain or sliding  sides have taken up the challenge of conveying palletized goods.


CATTLE, CEMENT, PLATE GLASS AND MINERAL WAGONS
 


"Cattle wagon. The next [ wagon ] carries 20 tons of cement.  It is loaded on doors through the top.  Unloading is through pipes and air pressure is used to make the cement run easily. [ Next ] is a wagon specially designed for carrying big pieces of plate glass, sometimes for shop windows.  The glass has to be well packed and fixed tightly so that it cannot move the tiniest bit during the journey.  Most of the coal mined in the country travels by train.  Much of it is carried in 16-ton steel wagons.  It goes to factories, electric power stations, gas works and to your homes as well."
 


 "Cattle wagon. The next [ wagon ] carries 20 tons of cement.  It is loaded on doors through the top.  Unloading is through pipes and air pressure is used to make the cement run easily. [ Next ] is a wagon specially designed for carrying big pieces of plate glass, sometimes for shop windows.  The glass has to be well packed and fixed tightly so that it cannot move the tiniest bit during the journey.  Most of the coal mined in the country travels by train.  Much of it is carried in 16-ton steel wagons.  It goes to factories, electric power stations, gas works and to your homes as well."                            
 

 

  
 

British Railways were still building 11 and 8 ton cattle wagons to an essentially Great Western design during the 1950s (including a batch of 8 tonners as Lot 2495 at Swindon in 1954 which seem to have inspired the Airfix - now Dapol kit pictured above) although few survive today as at the end of their working lives they were often burned to destroy possible infection.  The last traffic flows of live cattle were from ports receiving beasts from Ireland and the Scottish isles as late as the 1980s and today all cattle are slaughtered close to the farms where they were raised and their carcasses transported in refrigerated lorries.  

 
 


British Railways were still building 12 and 8 ton cattle wagons to an essentially Great Western design of 1888 from 1949 to 1954 (including a batch of 11' wheelbase 8 tonners as Lot 2495 to Diagram 353 at Swindon in 1954 which seem to have inspired the Airfix - now Dapol kit pictured above) although few survive today as at the end of their working lives they were often burned to destroy possible infection.  The horizontal rack to the right of the central planked cupboard doors allowed a partition to be moved along the width of half the wagon according to the number of cattle being carried.

The last traffic flows of live cattle were from ports receiving beasts from Ireland and the Scottish isles as late as the 1980s and today all cattle are slaughtered close to the farms where they were raised and their carcasses transported in refrigerated lorries.  

In the fantasy train the cattle wagon is marshalled next to the Presflo cement wagon, also the subject of a 4mm scale Airfix kit and now produced too by Dapol. The Presflo - which was first designed and built by British Railways at Shildon in 1954 - is described in more depth in terms of its mass production by the Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Company Limited.

The plate glass wagon is a pre-Nationalisation Great Western design based on the low-loading machine wagon ( Lowmac ) format in contrast to the LNER bogie plate glass wagons and the long wheelbase two axle Glass MD type built by the LMS to serve the glass producing town of St Helens in Lancashire.

Today most of the coal mined in Britain - or more likely imported - still travels by train but usually only as far as a large power station and in a much larger wagon than the 16 ton mineral wagon.  

The  Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Company Limited  outshopped two variants of this classic 16 ton design – a riveted version going to Western Region while London Midland took delivery of welded types.

Indeed, the "16 ton min" began as a London Midland &Scottish Railway concept to replace the lower capacity wooden private owner coal wagons that firms like Gloucester RCW had built in their hundreds from the 1880s to the 1930s. The 9’ wheelbase wagons ranged in complexity from simple 16’ 6" underframe boxes on wheels used to feed iron ore tipplers to examples like the one shown here with two half-height side doors and a full height end door, as indicated by the high end of the diagonal white stripe. 

When new, 16 ton minerals fitted with vacuum brakes were painted in bauxite livery and those unfitted in light grey – although both varieties soon took on a patina of grime and rust. In all, 239 673 16 ton mineral wagons were built and lasted up to 1987 in revenue earning service. However, their main use was the transport of coal to local merchant’s sidings, a traffic flow that was to disappear - along with small freight yards and vacuum braked wagon load traffic - with the advent of air braked merry go round services direct to power stations from mines.

 


 GRAIN AND MACHINE WAGONS
 


" A bulk grain wagon which carries 20 tons.  Besides the grain grown in this country, shiploads come from overseas and these wagons take it to the millers and to the merchants. [ Next ] is a machine wagon for things like wheeled and tracked vehicles, excavators and agricultural machinery. "
 


" A bulk grain wagon which carries 20 tons.  Besides the grain grown in this country, shiploads come from overseas and these wagons take it to the millers and to the merchants. [ Next ] is a machine wagon for things like wheeled and tracked vehicles, excavators and agricultural machinery. "
 

 

  
 Both the GWR and LMS had produced steel bodied covered hopper wagon types for bulk grain traffic and BR built stock was developed from these - riveted at first but later of welded construction.  Later versions were also vacuum brake fitted and roller bearing axle boxes were a common feature.  Grain wagons were also associated with the carriage of malt barley either from ports or the East Anglian wheat fields to breweries around Britain.

Machine wagons - known in many railway circles as "Lowmacs" and originally as Loriots on the Great Western - were built by all the Big Four British railway companies and ranged in capacity from 12 to 21 to 25 tons, as seen above in a vacuum brake fitted LNER variant designated Lowmac EP: the E denoting that the wagon's movements had to be reported to Eastern Region wagon control.  After Nationalisation, the Lowmac EP was adopted as a British Railways standard with the Diagram 2/242 and 28 examples were built by P W McLellan to Lot 2187 in 1950.

Normally Lowmacs had a warning board at one end prohibiting loose shunting and some Lancing built SR examples featured a solebar pocket where chains for securing loads were kept.  Other BR built Lowmacs were adapted with air brakes, extra coupling chains and special buffers for Continental working and some LNER built wagons were later adapted to carry the waste from Britain's first nuclear power stations.  

 
 

 

  
 

The Airfix (now Dapol) kit is based on the 14 ton Lowmac EK, originally a Great Eastern Railway design and identified as Diagram 2/244.  52 were built by British Railways at Shildon to Lot 2475 in 1953 and Lot 2553 in 1954.  Many were scrapped at the end of the 1960s and the few survivors often had mechanical diggers permanently attached.

 
 

 

  
  The Airfix (now Dapol) kit is based on the 14 ton Lowmac EK, originally a Great Eastern Railway design and identified as Diagram 2/244.  52 were built by British Railways at Shildon to Lot 2475 in 1953 and Lot 2553 in 1954.  Many were scrapped at the end of the 1960s and the few survivors often had mechanical diggers permanently attached. 

The Lowmac EK - numbered B905021 in the Dapol model's decal sheet -  differs from the integral channel-section deck and solebar construction of the EP variant depicted in Know Your Trains by having a higher cantilevered deck  with more sharply tilted ramps, the flat section being supported by by five triangular brackets on each side. 

Another recognition feature is the  four inverse U-section metal buffer covers, allowing a vehicle to be driven along a rake of Lowmac EKs closely coupled together in a straight line.  Without these covers, the EK resembles a smaller version of the 25 ton Great Western pattern Lowmac WE, built at Swindon to Lot 2975 in 1957 and with very similar Wiltshire-designed axleboxes.

The JCB3 - discussed more deeply on Toucan Park on these pages - was originally introduced by Airfix in 1963 as a load for the Lowmac EK but is today offered as a separate Dapol kit.

 

 

 

PETROL, CHEMICAL AND BOGIE BOLSTER WAGONS
 

 

  
  "You may think it strange to see a petrol wagon on the railway.  But petrol has to be got to places where it is sold for motor cars, tractors and lorries.  Diesel oil and many other liquids go in tanks like these as well.  The next wagon is for carrying chemicals.  It is very important that they should be kept dry, so the wagon has a roof. [The next vehicle] is called a bogie bolster wagon.  It can take a 42 ton load and is used for carrying long pieces of metal such as girders for building bridges, factories and blocks of offices and flats." 

 

 

"You may think it strange to see a petrol wagon on the railway.  But petrol has to be got to places where it is sold for motor cars, tractors and lorries.  Diesel oil and many other liquids go in tanks like these as well.  The next wagon is for carrying chemicals.  It is very important that they should be kept dry, so the wagon has a roof. [ The next vehicle ] is called a bogie bolster wagon.  It can take a 42 ton load and is used for carrying long pieces of metal such as girders for building bridges, factories and blocks of offices and flats.                                        
 

 

  

Not perhaps the most elegant description of the role of the petrol tanker but absolutely correct nonetheless.  The post 1945 silver livery is also spot-on: albeit without any advertising logos and a deeper examination the carriage of liquid chemicals by rail can be found on this website in Gloucestershire's Chemical Romance

The chemical wagon meanwhile was designed in the early days of Britain's Nationalised railway to carry such dry powdered products as soda ash.  A simpler cousin of the Presflo seen above, its covered hopper design led to the technical abbreviation "COVHOP".  Like the grain wagon illustrated above, COVHOPs appeared in both vacuum fitted and unfitted variants with roller bearing axle boxes.

The bogie bolster wagon illustrated by CARR - designated BBD - was a BR development of the LNER "Quints" - the largest vehicles taken over by BR from any of the Big Four railways.  As well as LNER buffers and brake levers, the BBD also featured fixed bolsters just above the bogie centres.  As was the case with the "Quints", BR's BBDs also boasted a choice of diamond framed or - as seen here - plateback bogie types.  It is also interesting that Know Your Trains goes into such detail about the possible uses for a bogie bolster wagon's girder load.  Following the bomb damage of the Second World War, the 1950s were a time of reconstruction and renewal in Britain - also explaining the need for Presflo cement wagons.                                                                                                 
 

 

  
WELTROL WAGON AND BRAKE VAN
 


" Heavy pieces of machinery and such things as boilers are carried on a wagon called a Weltrol.  Our freight train has to have a guard and the last vehicle in his van.  In it there is a stove to keep him warm and on which he can heat his food on long journeys."
 


" Heavy pieces of machinery and such things as boilers are carried on a wagon called a Weltrol.  Our freight train has to have a guard and the last vehicle is his van.  In it there is a stove to keep him warm and on which he can heat his food on long journeys."                                                                  
 


As was the case with the four wheeled Lowmacs and  their cousins the Flatrols, the Weltrols - or well trollies - had sunken central sections to keep large payloads under the railway loading gauge and able to pass under bridges. Like the Flatrols but unlike the Lowmacs however, it was not possible to drive a large, heavy vehicle along a rake of  Weltrols and thus overload the bogies.

In the 21st Century of continuous air brakes controlled by drivers, a guard's van like the one illustrated is a rare sight on a revenue earning train.   While the Great Western Railway persisted with its one-verandah "Toad" brake van design, the Southern Railway, LMS and LNER adopted the format of verandahs at each end of a central shelter - equipped with a stove and storage for the guard's equipment and duckets to allow the guard to look along the length of the train.  However, when the LNER introduced its "Green Arrow" express freight service in 1936 using all vacuum fitted stock, they found that the standard LNER brake van was unsteady at high speed.  To rectify this, a standard body was placed on a longer 16' wheelbase chassis which gave the option of fitting the outer ends with concrete slabs for extra ballast.  This design later became a British Railways standard, even to the extent of retaining two lamp brackets per end as used in LNER practice.